Obama Fighting For His Blackberry... But May Be Losing

from the the-lawyers-win!-the-lawyers-win! dept

Right after the election, there was plenty of talk about how President-elect Obama would need to give up email just as President Bush did when he took office eight years ago. As plenty of people pointed out at the time, this seems like a pretty silly concept. There should be at least some way to allow Obama to continue to use this important and useful form of communication -- if only to allow him some access "outside the bubble" of DC. And, indeed, Obama made it clear that he would fight to figure out some way to keep emailing -- especially via his precious Blackberry. However, the latest news isn't looking good -- as Obama is noting that he still has been unable to convince both the security folks and the lawyers that he should be allowed to keep the Blackberry. Apparently, there are times when it's not so good to be the king.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:05pm

    the Israeli Defense Force has assassinated people using
    the signal from cell phones.

    Why on earth would any security service allow their
    leader to have a wireless device which has a signature
    which can be scanned out of the air, acting as a
    homing beacon?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:09pm

    POTUS needs to be connected.

    Do we really want another Bush? Look at how out of touch he is with reality.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    James (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:21pm

    Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

    I guess Clinton was just as disconnected since the article states that he did not use email either.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    usmcdvldg, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:22pm

    Silly?

    E-mail is the most unsecured form of communication on earth minus a loudspeaker; And a blackberry is basically a locator beacon in a fancy shell.

    What he possibly thinks he's going to write to someone that anyone on earth will eventually read, I have no idea.

    And how he thinks he will be able to cope with any tech savy sicko being able to know his location to within 1/2 mile, idk.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

    "out of touch with reality..."

    Well,look at who's living in the past 8 years... reality is the now...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:23pm

    Re:

    Sounds like another lame excuse based on fear. If what you detailed was such an issue, Secret Service Agents wouldn't communicate via any type of wireless device, nor would the handlers, or immediate family members. Get real.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    weneedhelp, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:28pm

    Good to be the king?

    Good to be the king? Must I remind TechDirt that we are a republic? Haven't we had 8 years of an administration that thought they were kings? All that's going on, and he is worried about a toy?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Re:

    Well, there is a bright side. I suppose his Zune WiFi would be a homing beacon too. Let's get him a nice, shiny iPod!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    drtaxsacto, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:29pm

    The Presidential Blackberry

    Absolutely, the President should be able to have a Blackberry (or even better an iPhone). The technology is readily available by routing that all those messages can be archived to make the lawyers happy - but if we learned anything from the last couple of presidents - they should have opportunities to be outside the bubble . The security folks want the president inside the bubble and that causes problems for our democracy.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    ehrichweiss, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:31pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually it's pretty accurate.

    The hole in your assertion becomes clear when you realize that you're talking about secret service agents, not the people that they're protecting.

    It wouldn't take long to create a device that could hunt someone through their Blackberry PIN or the like, and merely knowing that someone is within 75 yards is more info than you might want known about a world leader at a specific time, especially in a zone that's a lot harder to secure than, say, the Whitehouse.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Is he allowed to carry a cell phone or will they take that away too?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:37pm

    Re: Re:

    I doubt that the secret service uses standard
    communications systems. But, even if they did, you
    don't know what frequency, and you don't know the
    individual identifiers of each device.

    The blackberry is using a known frequency,
    so it's just a 'locator beacon' as another person
    points out.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    usmcdvldg, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:39pm

    Re: The Presidential Blackberry

    No a president should become the president already well versed in the world, not gain this incite after being elected.

    And two, the president should not be carrying any device that continuously transmits an easily detectable radio signal, especially if that signal is transmitting easily decipherable communications!

     

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  14.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Silly?

    E-mail is the most unsecured form of communication on earth minus a loudspeaker

    Indeed. But as long as you recognize that and communicate accordingly, what's the problem?

    And a blackberry is basically a locator beacon in a fancy shell.

    That's a totally bogus reason. If it were true, no one in the President's company could bring a mobile phone with them. Hell, if it's really a problem, just keep rotating phones. This is pretty straightforward.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:43pm

    Re:

    Well how is this any different then them using the cellphones on the secret service agents? Also i don't think this is about him having a cell phone i think this is about a black berry, and having an email account that he uses as it will have a record.

    I say let him use email...just have them purge it if needed every month.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Theoden, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:49pm

    Re: Good to be the king?

    Not familiar with Mel Brooks, are you?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 2:53pm

    Email is displacing more and more communications these days, and to think it's useless and a message needs to be telegraphed to i.e. Rahm before it gets to Barack is inefficient to say the least. Maybe the Google boys can come up with an Android-based push-email system that is more secure and has a daily-randomized homing beacon. Surely they could do it in a few months to replace the Blackberry.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Phil, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:00pm

    I got the answer for the beacon problem

    Use prepaid wireless service and buy a new blackberry every day.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Sean Henry, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: The Presidential Blackberry

    Have all emails routed to a secure server then the server forwards the message encrypted and have decryption software installed on the phone and reply via connection to the secured server. Change the encryption key every week or when ever the phone is synced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    nathan smack, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

    This is a non issue being blown out of proportion by the press and other outlets. The pres. can and does communicate as often and from any outlet he so chooses. Caveat... it must be done with the strictest adherance to national security and be subject to the laws that dictate public access to government documents. This President will undoubtedly set new precident in public communication and has already shown his desire for transparency in his inagural fundraising. Ultimatley he will have to decide that following the security mandates are in the best interest of the Country. I appoligize for any typos... I typed this from my palm centro which is decidedly better than any bb product save the storm :)

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Todd, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:20pm

    why did you post this article

    it has absolutely nothing new in it and is practically content-free.

    i read this site for the insightful analysis and news, and i'm honestly disappointed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Wesha, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    > Why on earth would any security service allow
    > their leader to have a wireless device which has
    > a signaturewhich can be scanned out of the air,
    > acting as a homing beacon?

    Well, they carry the Briefcase of Nuclear Doom just fine...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Wow, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

    "Well,look at who's living in the past 8 years"

    Does that actually mean anything?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: why did you post this article

    I think it was posted for the same reasons that the 11:00 news sometimes plays footage of waterskiing squirrels.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    >> Well, they carry the Briefcase of Nuclear Doom just fine...

    Can anyone confirm if that has a 24,000 mile cable attached to it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Or just disable the wireless... since that is not needed for the primary function of a Zune, unlike a Blackberry.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Michael Long, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:38pm

    What reasons?

    Saying that there are "security" issue is too general. As such, it would be nice to know exactly what issues and fears they're discussing, since many might apply to all of the other people out there who use the service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re:

    Apparently you're the authority on what MP3 player everyone should use?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    No, I just read about some dude going out and getting 3 zune tatoos, and then going out to buy an iPod.

    You can't buy worse publicity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Veronica Eaton, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 3:57pm

    more money for consumers

    Dear Mr. President:

    A friend of mine suggested to me 2 major problems in this country dealing with finances - the credit bureau and the irs, without these 2 thorns in the consumers pocketbook, the american people could save and look forward to the future instead of worrying about social security benefits. FICA score prevents the consumers from getting credit, and the irs tax the consumers thousands and millions of dollars every year. The consumer has to paY the tax person from $100 and up to file their taxes and in some cases the consumer HAVE TO PAY IRS.


    Thank You

    Veronica Eaton

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:06pm

    Re: Re: The Presidential Blackberry

    "No a president should become the president already well versed in the world, not gain this incite after being elected."

    The world changes significantly over a presidential term, especially in these turbulent, technology-driven times. Do we really want the president's only view of the world from this day forward to be the one filtered throuhg special advisors?

    "And two, the president should not be carrying any device that continuously transmits an easily detectable radio signal, especially if that signal is transmitting easily decipherable communications!"

    Anyone using such a device for matters of national security would be a fool, and I doubt Obama is such a person. Without classified data on the device, what's the danger? If you're thinking of triangulating his position, I'm sure the device would be disabled when he's in any kind of danger or where the device would pose some other physical risk.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    mslade, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:20pm

    That's right, keep thinking inside the box, people. That's how progress happens. There's absolutely no way on this planet that one could communicate with cellular technology without giving away ones location. Nope. The technology simply doesn't exist.

     

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  33.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:33pm

    BS

    Security concerns? Please. It's the lawyers who are freaked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    AdamLee, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Re:

    On your same sarcastic note... you don't think there is someone out there who can hack "whatever" signal he may be using. No matter how high tech or top secret, if he is using "emails" and making phone calls, he is broadcasting a wireless signal of some type. If theres a signal, you can be traced. Come on? Think about it...

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Scott, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:35pm

    Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

    If 2 years you will be wishing for someone like Bush to get us out of the mess Obama is going to put us in. I pray every day to be wrong about this but somehow don't think my prayers will be answered.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    mslade, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 5:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Quite true. But on that topic, there is no security. So it's now a question of what you'll give up for a little more security. I can think of a good number of ways that our president's security is exposed that are much more serious than a blackberry, with human fallibility or naivety being top among them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Rizwan, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:17pm

    So like, who emails obama anyway? Word of the day?

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Mike the Sike, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    lots of Ignoramuses here.....

    its NOT that the device can be tracked...they can mod a Blackberry for him that would be completely annonomyus and all GPS type of tracking can be disabled on it.

    It's that email is the most unsecure form of communication out there (as an earlier poster noted). It is sent in the clear, no encryption. Email travels a lot of places before arriving at its destination. So anyone at any stop can technically see it. I am in IT an handle many exchange servers. You'd be suprised the stuff I see that getws trapped in filters, or stuck in SMTP servers, etc. People are so stupid when it comes to this and they also belileve that once they delete email its gone. Uh no....its all archived and can be retrived....

    Second reason is the most obvious....its IN WRITING. Unlike a phone conversation (unless its recorded, everything said is memorialized and part of legal discovery.

    So I am not a fan of NObama, I emphathise with him because I am a Crackberry user too, but this just exemplpifies his inexperience alomost as bad as picking Panetta, a person with NO intelligence record, as CIA chief. Just unbelievable and dangerous in these times.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:32pm

    wow: 34 comments and no one's mentioned the military? more-than-less secure forms of communication exist. i can't believe for a minute that the usa can surprise its enemies (or those it makes enemies) with military strikes without coordinating its attacks and communicating the plans to relevant stakeholders. work it out and let the man run the world already!

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

    LMAO

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:07pm

    Re: Re:

    Trace a signal that's spread on a million random frequencies
    all at once?

    This type of communication, at this point, is one of the most secure that the military has got -- precisely because it cannot be distingushed from background noise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:09pm

    uhhmmm....who's the President? If I were President, you wouldn't see me giving up email and screw a blackberry, I'd have an iPhone.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Phillip Vector, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:46pm

    His code

    Just curious here.. Wouldn't someone need to know what the "pin code" is for that blackberry before they could track it? I don't see someone even knowing that data except perhaps if someone checked and confirmed that it was correct.

    So... Let him have it. If the terrorists use it to attack, they can't know what signal to track.. I mean, how could they know? I'm not trying to be snarky, but I'm curious how a terrorist can learn the presidents personal "pin"?

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 9:14pm

    Re: His code

    No. A PIN code just is the "address" to send mail. You still need to exchange the 3DES cryptographic keys, which if I remember correctly, is done over a hard-wired USB connection.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Peter Griffin, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 11:52pm

    Re: more money for consumers

    IRS is working on that.
    http://economy.kansascity.com/?q=node/709

    What really grinds my gears is that the bailout money isn't being used to lend to businesses or consumers. This is key in maintaining open stores and purchasing. Instead, TARP seems to be used to maintain day-to-day business for the financial institutions and also fund buyouts of banks. In the process, it seems to be triaging THEIR OWN risk down to their customers, and in the process, setting their customers up for times of financial hardship.

    However, things get even more cumbersome when people start to learn that in the past 7 years, many companies have started using consumer credit screening as part of hiring and even internal promotion process for candidates. Passed up for a promotion? Maybe your too high of a credit risk. What a scary thought! But when the dust storm settles, and the economy is fixed (by whatever means that happens) I have a feeling many people will be very angry at these types of practices once they realize this is happening.

    But yes, I agree, it's best to safeguard your FICO score, guard it with your life, don't buy luxuries, and save the best you can, (which is counter-direction of a debtor society). Who knows, you may be in a better position for that promotion than you thought!

    But there's going to be a lot of changes and perhaps the definition of an EOE needs to expand to a company that doesn't need to determine if you need a promotion based on your (private life) FICO score.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Paul Stout (profile), Jan 9th, 2009 @ 12:51am

    Obama Fighting For His Blackberry... But May Be Losing

    I don't know why he should be losing, or even why the subject is considered important enough to be discussed in the news.

    Granted, the security folks, Secret Service etc., will have their objections concerning his security, but when it comes right down to it, all they can do is advise. I don't really see how they can force him to give it up. When it comes down to the final decision it's his choice to make, not theirs, on how much he follows personal security routines.

    Myself, in his shoes, I'd just tell them to go to hell and I'll use the phone. The Secret Service folks wouldn't like it, but ultimately it's still his decision to make, not theirs.

    If I remember correctly, way back at the start of Clinton's first term there was a bit of a brouhaha over security on his daily morning runs. Clinton finally gave in enough to allow one security agent to accompany him on those morning runs. The Secret Security people distinctly didn't like it, but all they could do was advise, not command. The final decision wasn't for the Secret Service to make.

    So, if Obama wants to use his Blackberry, in spite of any increase of personal security it might cause, it's his choice and more power to him. It's his life and his decision on just how much of a security blanket that will be around him. You don't give that up just because you became President.

    Personally, I think it's ridiculous that there is even all this much discussion about the subject. It tell's me that the newspapers/TV new/reporters either have too much time on their hands or it's a slow news month and they aren't capable of thinking of anything else important enough to comment about.

    No wonder I quit reading newspapers for my news! I get it faster and, more importantly, with considerably more accuracy via the Internet.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    aep528, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 5:00am

    Classified information and cell phones

    I didn't read all of the posts, but there is another reason that people are probably not aware of: Cell phones are not allowed in areas where classified information is discussed. Period. No exceptions. If you're caught with an active cell phone you lose your clearance. Period. Why should the same rules not apply to the president?

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 6:37am

    Re:

    Come one. With all the tech, knowledge and resources the NSA/CIA has, they surely could be able to make his crackberry secure if they wanted to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 9:30am

    Re: Silly?

    Actually, no. You can get two-factor add-ons for completely encrypted email over a blackberry http://na.blackberry.com/eng/ataglance/security/products/smartcardreader/

    It's the same technology that the DOD uses for authenticating people when they login to secure communications systems.

    I think that a bigger worry would be that Blackberry's servers are controlled by a foreign power (Canada) and there is a legal requirement to track and catalog all presidential communications.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: The Presidential Blackberry

    Just put the phone in a mylar bag when you are not using or had it to an aide.

    It's not like people around him don't have these devices, or people he's meeting. How many times have you seen other world leaders on cell phones....

    Fundamentally, this is misplaced paranoia and a question of institutional control.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re: lots of Ignoramuses here.....

    Hmm, you work with Blackberries and you don't know about this http://na.blackberry.com/eng/ataglance/security/products/smartcardreader/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Phillip Vector, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    Re: Classified information and cell phones

    Because I doubt that the president is going to turn to enemies of the nation and give away our secrets.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Mike the Sike, Jan 9th, 2009 @ 6:44pm

    Re: Re: lots of Ignoramuses here.....

    uh....yes we know about this BUT the presumption is that he wishes to continue to use it the way he does now, probably socially too. So what do we do buy a smart encrypter for everyone he knows and intends to communicate with? including William Ayers, and the Rev Wright?

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    TW Burger, Jan 12th, 2009 @ 4:38pm

    Re: Re: Good to be the king?

    History of the World (Part 1)

    Harvey Korman as Count de Monet: "Sire, the people are revolting."

    Mel Brooks as King Louis XVI: "Your right... they stink on ice."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Silly?

    No one in the Presidents direct company as a matter of course IS permitted to carry a cell phone. We have secure communications for that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jan 13th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    Re: Re: POTUS needs to be connected.

    That's because you are a paranoid loon.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    mary-chicago, Jan 20th, 2009 @ 5:15am

    blackberry

    i believe he should be allowed to still use it to browse the internet even if he can not e-mail. This is how he gets to stay in touch with the real world. It is what keeps his attention focused on whats happening in the lives of every normal american. Thats what I want from our President. I want to know that he hasn't lost sight of why he was elected.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    vashsgfv, Jan 20th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    y87y7ughhu

    kmmiij0iokokyoioeopktokookokokokyijipewooko9i9iy99

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    identicon
    jANici, Jan 7th, 2010 @ 2:02am

    Re

    People’s community would get know just about how it works. Sometimes we adjure custom essay sites about this topic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Calcium Carbonate, Nov 26th, 2010 @ 1:59am

    Obama is a great and intelligent person, he can solve their problem easily. So their is not be flurry.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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